Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What have we wrought?

I am not the first to say this – political correctness on campus and with our young has risen to a dangerous level. It has to be smashed. I don’t mean we should smash them, but they have to be suspended and/or thrown out of college, teachers and administrators who support it need to be fired, and parents and students who oppose them need to be praised and protected from vicious retribution. We need to stop now the crazy ideas about safe zones from speech they don’t like and micro-aggressions, which can mean anything.

Today I watched a video of a speaker at a school being interfered with by a student in the audience who kept interrupting. The topic was free speech. The student was screaming – from what I could here – something about hate speech. When she was threatened with being evicted from the auditorium she started frantically waving her arms and screaming – what I can’t say – it sounded like a baby balling. Perhaps she had been told to behave this way.

We must educate too. Interrupting others, invading their talks, grabbing their microphones – is not free speech. It has nothing to do with free speech. It is in fact a violation of law, probably everywhere. Sadly, even politicians seem to need this. The next time I hear its free speech from a commentator, panelist or politician, I’m driving to the studio and interrupting.

Unfortunately, we can’t expect college administrators or teachers to help. In Swarthmore College, just as an example, students took over a board meeting that the board members had already agreed to be an open forum. And essentially blathered away, not letting anyone else speech. Apparently, the school feels helpless. Rather than backing down and accepting the change, the board members should have called the police.

A few students who didn’t want any part of it had to leave. There was nothing else they could do. In another recent example a student who was part of a discussion group in class about rape pointed out that a frequently cited statistic about rape was overstated and he gave his reasons. His reward for adding to the discussion was being told by the professor he could no longer participate in class discussions.

These intolerant, angry students, are not there to learn, they are there to spread their ignorance and practice to be Maoists, which might seem like a good idea to them right now. No thanks. I attended college in the ‘70s, not that far from the sixties. I saw a few rallies (really few; I despised them as I continue to despise meeting of most sorts in my middle age). But, there was nothing like this - even in the 60s there was generally more respect in a sit-in. And, honestly, they had a lot more to complain about.

Someone I know who is incredibly left leaning, and though white, identifies almost completely with any minority and group he believes is underprivileged or discriminated against, told me of going to a meeting where a Black Lives Matter representative was one of the speakers. He wouldn’t give up the mike, invited friends onstage, lectured the audience, overwhelming liberal about their racism, and was generally obnoxious. He was mortified to be lectured like that, but kept repeating that he understands why they behave that way.

Personally, I think behavior like this is incipient fascism, and I’m not surprised when violence breaks out. It is what they want. Although today I heard that Clinton had a BLM protestor thrown out, she and the other Democrat candidates have given encouragement to this behavior. As obnoxious as Trump is, and as stupid as he was to encourage violence, I preferred what he did to what the Democrats did. Frankly, it is going to get uglier and I expect more violent.

It’s not only the schools, of course. People now live in terror that someone on their Facebook or similar account might say something politically incorrect. They are afraid to joke in public. No humor is permitted where anyone might be made fun of except for white males.

The other day I called someone I know a “faggot.” He is a great person, very reasonable and I can’t think of a bad thing anyone has to say about him - ever. He’s also gay, and apparently very sensitive about the word. I was kidding him in response to a story as to how wimpy he behaved as a child. It was a reflexive remark and I wasn’t thinking about his being gay. Of course I know the derivation of the word and what it can mean, but I grew up with people calling each other faggots. I thought one day it might come out of my mouth with the wrong person and it did. I felt bad, and when he said, a little heated, that it was “not alright,” I said “I know, but it’s a phrase I’ve used for 35 years and I didn’t mean that.” I don’t know why I said 35 years. It is probably closer to 50 years. I doubt I knew about the gay meaning for a few years. Sure, I could have thought about it, but in the spur of the moment I didn't. Hopefully, I'll be more careful in the future. But, absent-mindedness is kind of built into me.

We dropped it after that. But I did tell another friend what happened, who said I should have asked if he ever called anyone a “bastard?” That has a duel meaning too. So does “idiot,” and “retard.” And so on. I’m not talking about racial slurs that have no other meaning other than to demean someone (I’ve joked about that but have never called anyone a slur). Like the “N” word or the “C” word for women. But, are we no longer to be able to use common phrases that have other meanings to us. I’ve learned many people who use the word “putz” or “schmuck” have no idea what it really means in Yiddish (hint, men have them, women don’t).

The political correctness gets worse and worse. Honestly, I try not to say words that offend people where there is no need for it, but at some point, you should be able to speak colloquially without offending anyone. I have a friend, Jewish, who is sensitive about non-Jews using the word “Jew.” I have another Jewish friend who is offended when people use a word in place of “Jew,” like “Jewish person.” There both terrific people and a lot of fun. But, sometimes you can’t win with this stuff. I'm sure I've offended both of them at least once if not more, but I don't feel bad about that. I mean, Jew is the actual word for Jews. How do you get around it? "The chosen people?"

I know I haven't reacted like this when someone called me a Jew or even repeated a stereotype. I know I don't get offended when someone points out how slow I walk (crippled). I can't see a reason to get offended. I didn't get offended when someone suggested we bring back the word "bastard" for children of unmarried parents, even though it described my daughter (of whom the speaker was quite fond). I don't like racial slurs, but that's because they are meant to be injurious and there is no other use for them. I try not to even use them in a joke, because I realize how painful they are to people (although I do laugh at racial jokes - doesn't matter the group targeted, even my own. To me the joke is on the bigot, not the target, or the outrageousness of it).

Of course, you don’t have to be a political junkie to know that many people who like Donald Trump, but many others, are so sick of this political correctness. The media, if of course, completely sold on it. Recently, John Kasich, speaking at a town hall meeting, was asked by a woman about campus rape. He made many remarks which no liberal could complain about. At the end, he added and try not to go to parties where there is a lot of drinking. That night, numerous commentators sort of fudged, admitting that there was nothing wrong with what he said, but he probably shouldn’t have. Why? Are they crazy. Every parent concerned about campus rape should be telling their young girls that. It isn’t saying rape is their fault. Its saying don’t make yourself vulnerable. Have we all gone crazy?

Of course, some people think that I’m too politically correct because I’d rather not offend people to a point. Okay. We are all going to have our limits. But, at some point, for me, it goes way past what our society thinks is reasonable, and is being driven by young (which often means stupid) people and a small group of “speech Nazis” magnified by the media.

I have no panacea for this problem. It probably has been and will be ever ongoing. But, now, they need to start in school. The establishment has to become rebellious.

I am no longer teaching as a college adjunct. Haven't for years. But, as much as I liked doing it, it’s a good thing I’m done. Because I’d probably be fired. But, in my mind, those who punish kids for ridiculous reasons need to be fired. Those who make extremely stupid rules need to be fired. Otherwise, we can only expect more of this. I'm not making a prediction this is going to happen, because it is highly unlikely. Likely, it will get worse.

What have we wrought?

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .